A comedian who changed the leadership script in Reykjavik: The case of Jón Gnarr

Inga Minelgaite*, Svala Guðmundsdóttir, Árelía E. Guðmundsdóttir, Olga Stangej

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter is a case study of the leadership exercised by Jón Gnarr, a famous comedian who later served as the mayor of Reykjavik through 2010–2014. This profile is based on the reflections and insights shared during seven open-ended interviews with official city leaders who had closely worked with Jón Gnarr in the political arena. Evidence suggests that Jón Gnarr emerged as a leader due to extreme social and economic factors, which led to the election of the Best Party and thus shaped an unorthodox leader. At the same time, the descriptions provided by his followers portray an image of a leader that closely matches the theories of authentic leadership and has made a lasting impact. When Jón Gnarr stepped into the role of the mayor of Reykjavík, he used new tactics that had not been seen before with trust, respect, and care as the underlying values, out-of-the-box behavior patterns, original communication style, and intuition. Thus, he inspired his followers to change their own communication style. Finally, the case laid out in this chapter contributes to our understanding of authentic and unconventional leadership as an efficient vehicle in unusual circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContributions to Management Science
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NameContributions to Management Science
ISSN (Print)1431-1941
ISSN (Electronic)2197-716X

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature.

Other keywords

  • Authentic leadership
  • Jón Gnarr
  • Mayor of Reykjavik


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